So John Tory has apparently found a seat, his foray into the 416 resulting in defeat, so he is slinking back to the rural, Central Ontario ridings (after Dufferin-Caledon, the second he has represented) which form the bulk of the Tory rump caucus. It will be interesting to see how Tory in the House will lobby effectively on behalf of the 905/416 regions he will need breakthroughs in to have a hope of returning to power.
Of course, this assumes Tory can even win the seat. Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock was won by Laurie Scott with slightly less then 50% of the vote, so it is hardly a swing riding or anything, but with the Liberals probably able to have a base of about 30% they can build on, (and you better believe the Liberals will contest this by-election) combined with Tory's unpopularity, his parachute candidate status (again) and the unpredictable nature of by-elections, will combine to make this no walk in the park for Tory.
Another interesting note is this:
In return for giving up the seat she has held since 2003, Scott will likely succeed Bay Street veteran Andy Pringle as Tory's chief of staff at Queen's Park until the 2011 provincial election.
At that point, she would want to return to elected politics in her cottage country riding while the leader runs in another constituency, sources said.
A few things stand out here:
-A possible line of attack for Liberals during the by-election campaign, attacking Tory for only having the seat on an interim basis, run a local based campaign around the idea of Tory as a parachute candidate who prefers Toronto and based on his past experience in Dufferin-Caledon, finds Central Ontario nice to visit when in a pickle, but doesn't think it is worth his time to stay.
-If Tory is elected, how will he be able to represent his constituents effectively, since he will be a temp, interim MPP, whose citizens are seemingly unworthy of his permanent representation?
-Where would Tory run (if he is still around as leader in 2011) in the next election? Given his preference for the GTA, lets try and find a seat for him.
Don Valley West: Tory's home riding, and the site of his last run. Probably doubtful, as I doubt Tory has any desire to take on a well-entrenched cabinet minister who won a majority of the votes in the previous election, despite the decent performance by the federal Conservatives in the last election.
Thornhill: Tory was rumoured to want this seat to keep in the GTA, but Peter Shurman seems to be going nowhere, and will probably still be around in 2011.
Mississauga South: A seat Tory was reportedly very strongly considering running in before the Tim Peterson debacle, local feelings still run high (Effie was a leader of the anti-Tory movement at last years convention) and Sousa is becoming more and more locally popular. Would be interesting to see a match-up between Tory and a Liberal MPP who supported him in his mayoral run, but I don't see it happening.
Mississauga-Erindale: Site of the first federal Conservative victory in Mississauga in almost 2 decades, if it was represented by someone not a cabinet minister, Tory might give some serious thought to this one. However, given Takhar's much lower profile compared to Wynne, I think you could put this one on the maybe, albeit long-shot list.
Oakville: Another 905 seat the federal Conservatives won in 2008, and with demographics possibly friendly to Tory, and represented by a backbencher and not a cabinet minister, this could be a good one for Tory.
Oak Ridges-Markham: 905, taken again by the federal Conservatives, and the provincial Liberals "only" won by 11%, might be on the short-list.
Ottawa West-Nepean: A longshot, but an interesting one. I don't know how Tory would feel about taking on Dalton in his home city, (Dalton is significantly more popular in Ottawa then in say, Mississauga, as door knocking in both Mississauga South and Ottawa Centre demonstrated, in Mississauga South, we attempted to avoid mentioning Dalton, and the most common complaints made by voters were specifically about in Dalton, while in Ottawa Centre, dislike of Dalton was much less of an issue, at least going door to door) but it is a riding with a definite urban/suburban flavour, even if it is outside the GTA. John Baird could (if he was so inclined, it must be remembered Baird supported Flaherty for leadership, serving as his campaign co-chair, and his departure from provincial politics was attributed by some as his distaste for serving under Tory) lend Tory a formidable ground team, and the riding is traditionally a swing riding, which would come in hand. However, Tory would never run in OW-N unless Jim Watson, the very popular incumbent MPP and another cabinet minister, steps aside to run for Mayor of Ottawa, which he apparently is strongly considering. I really doubt he would go further east then he would be with H-KL-B, but hey, you never know.
So if we look at those, I say the most likely options for a Tory 2011 run would be Oakville and Oak Ridges-Markham, with a particular emphasis on Oakville.
Oh, and let the record show that by displacing a female MPP in order to cling to his job, John Tory will bring the female PC caucus down to 6, or less then a quarter of the PC caucus. As a point of comparison, the Liberal cabinet has 8 female members in the cabinet, not including backbenchers. Well done, Mr. Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock (just doesn't have the same ring, does it?)